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The 'title card' from Escape of the Palisman.

there's not much introduction i can really give Escape of the Palisman - after a few weaker episodes, it's a nice little adventure that pulls on a lot of the fun plot hooks we've seen so far in the Boiling Isles. that's about as much as i can say about it! not every opening paragraph is a long one!

we open on Eda and Luz taking King to a playground - no context, King just needs his playtime, I guess, good for him - and when King asks for Eda to use her staff to destroy his various tiny enemies, it prompts a discussion on what exactly is up with Owlbert. remember when i mentioned way back in the second episode that some of the magic staff lore there is a little weird? this is why. it is here that we get our first insight into the nature of what Owlbert is, which hasn't exactly been a burning question, but there is an answer. he's a Palisman (the adorable Boiling Isles term for what we might think of as a witch's 'familiar'), carved from ancient magical wood by Eda herself, with an interlock so that he only fits on her staff. as you can imagine from the title all over this page, Palismen are going to be kind of important to this episode!

A screenshot from Escape of the Palisman, with Eda in a dream after she blacks out.

and then Eda blacks out! i had completely forgotten about this aspect of the episode, but it's actually done incredibly well, as the world abruptly fades away and takes on a soft blur mid-sentence and Eda desperately tries to find Luz in what appears to be the same hazy dreamscape we saw back at the end of The Intruder. the suddenness of it all, and the resulting urgency of Eda realizing her curse is kicking in again, really set a surprisingly menacing tone and re-establish how serious Eda's chronic condition is. it's a very unexpected bit of narrative gravitas for an episode where King has a feud with a 5-year old!

Luz is willing to cancel plans with Willow and Gus if it means staying home and taking care of Eda, but Eda insists she can look out for herself, unfortunately denying us the promise of King in a little doctor's outfit. Luz might not be fully attending Hexside yet, but she is at least unbanned enough to attend one of their sporting events, and while i pretty extensively covered the weirdness around the whole Hexside situation last time, i'll set that aside until she's actually in classes and say that i do like this scene as an opportunity for some fun banter with her friends. i'm really starting to buy these three as a clique, and the writers feel a lot more confident with the rhythm of their dialogue than the last few major episodes we got with these three.

unfortunately, Luz's default cat hoodie happens to match the rival school's colors perfectly, and searching for something with a little more Hexside pride means missing the... bus? it's more like one of those viking boats, but alive, but let's call it a bus, because the show does. it means missing the bus, and the only other way the group can think to get to the game that fast is by flying on a magic staff. it sure is good that we've been learning about magic staffs, then!

A screenshot from Escape of the Palisman, with King preparing to leave with a half-transformed Eda.

back at the Owl House, King stumbles upon Eda in her nest, where she's mostly transformed into her cursed owl beast form, but not quite entirely, visually represented by one of her eyes being perfectly normal, which honestly just makes the transformation look way scarier. evidently, she's in just the right equillibrium to be ordered around, and, well, King has a desperate need for authority and a grudge to go settle with some toddlers. big fan of the bit here where our two plots briefly overlap, with King just barely convincing Luz that everything is super normal and that she totally has permission to take Owlbert for a ride.

it's not long into this ride that Owlbert ends up with a pretty gnarly crack on his head - lot more light body horror in this one than i remember! - and decides to flee into the woods, leaving Luz and her friends to try and get him back. we get some good classic spooky cave work here, complete with bones littering the ground that Willow is in complete denial about, and the trio ends up running into the Bat Queen's babies, revealing this to be the nest of the massive demon. the show itself cuts back into the B-plot here, but in the interest of keeping this moving at a steady and readable pace, i won't! Luz, with enough experience with media to assume that the Demon Realm might work on Nightmare Before Christmas 'you're looking horrifying today' rules of etiquette, tries to smooth the situation over, but the Bat Queen isn't having it. she insists that mistreating a Palisman is a grave offense and that Owlbert will be staying under her protection from now on, even seeming to telepathically communicate with him to tell Luz off. after having only gotten a glimpse at her the last time she showed up, it's quite fun to see BQ getting to play the role of antagonist here, leaning into the inherent creepiness of a giant walking head with bat wings.

A screenshot from Escape of the Palisman, with Luz cleaning off the Bat Queen's babies.

for Luz to regain Owlbert's trust, the Bat Queen demands she perform in various trials (i.e. Bat Queen chores) such as milking a spider demon or scrubbing off the baby bats, which she handles admirably, to the point of shooting down Willow's idea to go get Eda's assistance in the hopes of proving a point to Owlbert. i'm normally not huge on characters stubbornly bearing unnecessary burdens, but they hit a good tone with Luz here where you can see why she does think doing this alone is important.

back on King's side of things, it turns out having an owl beast is really good for scaring kids off if you want to declare the local slide your new throne! unfortunately, owl beast Eda seems very interested in munching on all the playground equipment. King tries to use some elixir to get Eda to revert back when it starts seeming like this is going to be a problem, but intriguingly, it doesn't seem to have any effect aside from angering her. we get an entirely unnecessary but delightful bit of continuity here that i'd completely forgotten about, as the demon hunters Luz and friends dealt with a few episodes ago show up, now begrudingly employed as Bonesborough's 'animal control' department and responding to a call from various concerned parents. with a bit of combined magic, they manage to catch Eda and haul her off, which obviously presents some problems whether she's being treated as a feral demon or reverts back into the Isles' most wanted criminal.

meanwhile, Luz has successfully conquered BQ's trials, and Owlbert seems to be ready to return home with her, but the Queen quickly webs the Palisman up just like Willow and Gus and insists Luz's real final task must be to face her in battle. in the ensuing chase, Luz manages to spot the real reason the Bat Queen is being so defensive about Owlbert - she, too, has an interlock. (the show emphasizes this point twice, because commercial breaks and B-plots, etc.) as evidenced by her size, the Bat Queen was a Palisman meant for a giant, but she was 'broken' and discarded, fleeing in the woods to protect lost familiars like herself, revealing that there's been dozens, if not hundreds of them hanging out overhead this whole time.

A screenshot from Escape of the Palisman, with the Bat Queen revealing her commune of Palismen.

honestly, this is a pretty great reveal, connecting various bits and pieces we've heard throughout the show up until now without making the world feel constrictively smaller. "wayward home for lost familiars" is quite the enticing bit of lore to set up, and while it doesn't necessarily get played out to its full potential going forward, Palismen (and surrounding questions about their nature) are going to come up here and there as an important factor throughout the entire show, so props to this episode for putting these pieces in place.

Luz is sympathetic, but insists Owlbert isn't forgotten, and it takes the little owl himself stepping in the way of a potential attack for the Bat Queen to relent, allowing the group to leave peacefully. when Luz asks about who her owner was, the Queen says it's been so long that she doesn't even remember, and Luz promises that if she ever wants to find the answer, she'd be willing to help. i don't necessarily know if i should be putting this out there for people who are watching this show for the first time, but i'll just say this is a mystery we still don't have all the answers for as i'm writing this, and i'm hoping it maybe comes up again, whether it be in the series finale or perhaps gets explored in some kind of "wait, people really liked this show? put out a graphic novel" follow-up.

somewhere in the middle of all this, we also get the resolution to King's side of this story, as he forfeits his 'throne' to go catch up to Eda. he returns her by finally leaning into his adorable charm, performing a 'rage squeak' as voiced by showrunner Dana Terrace. i appreciate that, for as wildly different these two plots end up being in structure and tone, there's a bit of broad thematic resonance about two of our main characters being a little irresponsible and owning up to it. that's TV writing right there, baby!! i mean, he still tries to wriggle his way out of responsibility once she's conscious, saying that 'I woke up here one second before you did', but it's the thought that counts and he was willing to admit he felt a little weak when his friend was still too owl beast-y to hear it.

A screenshot from Escape of the Palisman, with Eda worrying about her elixir not working.

everyone returns home, and Owlbert covers for Luz - Eda's not buying it, but she's openly too tired to care. we end on a cute joke with the Bat Queen feeding her babies a bedtime story ('Yes, consume. Grow wise. Avoid paper cuts.') but the emotional climax here and the more inticing lead-in going forward is that when Eda is alone, she remarks to herself that the elixirs aren't keeping her curse in check anymore, seeming pretty shaken by how bad it's getting. scary!

as i said at the top, Escape of the Palisman isn't the most mind-blowingly big episode of The Owl House, and there's not a lot to read into the main characters beyond the very clear plot threads they're given here, but it is a solid little adventure that does a lot of work to tie some pieces of this show's world together. whether it's correcting our understanding of Palismen or tying concepts like the Bat Queen or the demon hunters back into the loop, it feels like the world of the Boiling Isles is taking shape, at least on a broad underlying scale. not literal shape. the literal shape is still a corpse. anyways, solid episode.

next time on The Owl House - Luz writes a book!

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